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Travelling to India and to the Himalayas

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Read this well before you plan your trip


Most of the time, travelling to the Himalayas involves flying to India.

If it is the first time that you travel to India, you may have some fear, and surely many questions in your mind.
On this page, you should find an answer to most of these questions and you will surely feel eased on many points.
Being well informed is crucial for a safe and comfortable journey, this is what we are trying to do here.

The page is divided into two sections : “Before departure” and “In the Himalayas with us”.
In the first section, you have all the information you need to prepare your trip, things you need to think before departure.
In the next section, you have all you need to know while travelling in India and in the Himalayas in particular.

Enquire with us for any other questions you may have.

Before departure


Vaccinations for India


Vaccinations for India

Vaccinations for India

Take the opportunity to check the status of all your vaccines.


Compared to the rest of the country, the Himalayas pose little danger when it comes to disease.

However, travelling to India is a great opportunity to get up to date with tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, polio and measles vaccines.
Vaccination against hepatitis A and B is also recommended.

Malaria is not present in the mountains of the Himalayas. You should therefore not take preventive medicines. But, although the risk is very low, we advise you to protect yourself from mosquitoes in the evenings and nights that you spend in the plains (Delhi!), in transit to the Himalayas.

This mosquito protection will also protect you from dengue fever, present in Delhi.

Any questions related to your health while travelling to India ? Seak advice from your physician or let us know !



Passport and visa



To access Indian territory you need a visa.
Be sure to have a passport whose validity is at least 6 months past your date of return from India.

Then you must follow the process of application for Indian visa by the company VF Services.
Here is the link to the online application services.
You need to enter the name of your country and India as the destination country.
You will be then transferred to the relevant section to apply for an Indian visa from your country.

You must apply for a tourist visa whose validity varies from 3 to 12 months.
Foreigners from 113 countries are now allowed to apply for an e-Visa online. The validity of an e-Visa is 1 year, but continuous stay during each visit on an e-tourist Visa must not exceed 90 days.

Not sure how to get your visa to India ? We can help !
Visa for India

Visa for India

You need to have a visa to enter the Indian territory.




International flights


flight to India

Flying to India

flights to India are relatively cheap.


Due to the volatile nature of airline ticket prices, we prefer our travellers to buy their tickets themselves.
Despite the great distance that separates Western Europe from the Indian subcontinent (8 hrs flight in average), ticket prices are relatively democratic compared to other exotic destinations.
It is the same for the flights from the US, the price per mile is quite low.

The price depends on the season you are travelling. The rule of the thumb applies : buy your ticket well in advance, as airlines are used to raising their prices as flights fill up.
Count between 500 and 700 euros per person all taxes included for a return flight between Europe and Delhi, the closest airport to the Himalayas.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require assistance.
If you are travelling in a group, you must all take the same flight. Therefore it is important to buy the tickets together.
You can either contact your travel agent or ask us to make the booking ourselves, it will be done at competitive rates.

Wanna book your flight with us ? Enquire now !



What to take ?



Take the minimum!
Travelling light is always more comfortable.
If you are going to trek, you do not need to carry caming equipment as we have imported quality camping and trekking equipment from Europe. We provide tents (different for safaris and treks), sleeping bags (with cotton liners for your hygiene), comfortable self-inflating mattresses, telescopic walking poles and all the required equipment for cooking in nature.
Take only your personal belongings.

Valid for all

Be sparing with your clothes, there is no point in wanting to change your clothes every day. You can ask to have your clothes washed in certain hotels, but this is not the case for all our tours. Ask us !
Bring appropriate clothing for sunny days and to protect yourself from the cold during the nights. Be aware that even in July - August, temperatures can be negative during the night at high altitude (beyond 4000 m), while daytime temperatures can reach 30°C in the same places.

  A waterproof (light) and windproof rain jacket.

  Pharmacy. Although we carry a First Aid kit containing the essentials on all of our tours, you may prefer to take your small personal pharmacy with you. In this case, we recommend that you bring: all medicines specific to your own health situation, stuff to manage small injuries, Paracetamol, Loperamide against diarrhea, Domperidone against the motion sickness, an antibiotic against respiratory tract infections, an antibiotic against digestive system infections (ofloxacin or azithromycin), an anti-inflammatory cream or pills for muscles and joints, hands sanitizer. Optional: water disinfection pills, available in pharmacies. Mosquito repellent.

  A torch (preferably a headlight).

  A hat (or cap) and sunglasses.

  Sunscreen and lip butter.

  A second pair of light and space-saving shoes (or slippers) for the evenings.

  Your toiletries should include a washcloth and a light towel.

  Two passport photos and copies of your passport and visa.

  Consider any other small camping gear for your comfort, although there is no need to clutter up.

For the treks

We recommend that you bring a small backpack (20 - 30 liters) for hiking days, for long treks favour a good larger backpack (50 - 60 liters).

  Good walking shoes.

  Good and light technical clothing should be favoured over simple everyday clothing, which is heavier and less effective.
travelling to india

What to take ?

Rule of the thumb : take the minimum !




In the Himalayas with us


Health concerns


health issues in India

Do you want to taste ?

Hygiene is a concern throughout India. Be aware :-)


The biological environment of India being very different from the Western environment, you are likely to get the traveller’s diarrhea. Bring Loperamide in your travel pharmacy.

Although it is important not to make a phobia of it, some precautionary measures can help you to avoid diarrhea, an infection transmitted by food, water, objects or dirty hands:

  Wash your hands regularly with soap, especially before meals. Hand sanitizers are also very effective, we recommend them.

  Tap water is not good to drink in the cities. Make sure you have a travel water filter if you prefer not to use plastic bottled water.

   Mountain water is excellent and you can drink it without real risk, using a water filter will protect you entirely. Consider investing in a bottle with an integrated filter like the Lifestraw bottles.

  You can afford to drink fresh juices, but avoid drinks with ice.

  There is no risk with cooked meals. Avoid salads the first days of your stay. Peel the fruit.

Any further question ? Enquire now !



About your food



Indian food is varied and delicious. But it is also spicy !
That’s what most of the travellers will directly notice.

For those who don’t like spicy food, remember this : We really get used to it in a couple of days and after that, we even get addicted to it !

So don’t worry, you may eat less on the first two days, but you can easily make up for it with some fruits and biscuits !

Our guide will help you as much as he can to get the food as you like it in the restaurant and the hotels.
On some of our tours, you will have not much choice of food for lunch as only very local eating places will be available.

Many Indian dishes are vegetarian. By default the meals are veg, but you will love the varieties of curries and vegetarian snacks ! If you want to eat meat, check the "non-veg" section of the menu, mostly chicken will be available, but sometime mutton or even fish will be on the menu.

Don’t worry about the food on the treks as we always do the best we can in the wilderness.
Food in india

Food in india

Don't think an Indian restaurant will make yourself ready for the real Indian food !




Hotels and other night stays in India


Hotels and other night stays in India

Four categories of hotels

This hotel comes in the Cat. B, with a nice local style.


We do not select the most expensive hotels to avoid increasing the price of the tours. However, we are extremely strict about cleanliness and hygiene, which is often a problem in India. Comfortable bedding, air-conditioned room when necessary, quality cuisine and hospitality from the hotel managers are our other selection criteria.

The same criteria are applied to the selection of homestays. However, we obviously cannot be as rigorous as with traditional hotels. To get a homestay experience, you may need to compromise on comfort.
In the description of the different tours you will see 4 categories of hotels :

  Cat. A : Luxury hotels, 4 or 5 stars hotels. There are usually not planned in the proposed tours. Enquire with us if you want to enjoy luxury in some places.

  Cat. B : That will be our choice in the cities like Delhi, Shimla, Manali or even Leh in Ladakh. Very comfortable stay, with a good choice of food, room service, laundry service, etc. Boutique hotels and guesthouses also come in this category.

  Cat C : You will have the basics but in a local style. We can still guarantee your hygiene in this category. Don’t expect luxury here, but a good night in a more authentic environment.

  Cat D : Mostly the real homestay in secluded areas. The good points here are the hospitality of the local families and the real experience of living like a local. On the comfort side, you have to compromise. Beds are very simple, rooms without artifice, and the washrooms are not attached to the bedroom, sometimes common. You will have to take your morning bath on the floor with a bucket of hot water and a jug.

  Camp : Camping happens mostly on the treks, but sometimes on a tour with a vehicle as well. You know what camping is, right ? But don’t worry we make it as comfortable as we can with excellent camping equipment. Himalayan Ectourism is reputed for its comfortable camps and bivouacs.

Any further question ? Enquire now !



Altitude sickness



Many of our tours involve stays at high elevations, so you’ll probably not be able to avoid mild altitude sickness.

To reduce the discomfort associated with altitude, all our itineraries are organized so that you climb gradually in altitude.
For instance, while many operators make the Delhi- Leh journey in two days / one night, we do it in a minimum of three days / two nights.

Even when planning the trip this way, you may experience mild altitude sickness symptoms. There is a drug that greatly reduces the risk of altitude sickness, the Diamox.
This drug is very well accepted by most. We will leave it up to you to use it or not.
On your request, we will make it available to you upon your arrival in Delhi at the pharmacy price.

Ask your doctor for advice.

Do you want an advice from our montain specialist doctor ? Enquire now !
Food in india

Altitude sickness

Headache and nausea are the first symptoms of altitude sickness.




On the road


Driving in India

On the roads of the Himalayas

Here is a bikers group in Ladakh with our backup jeep.


All transport is carried out in vehicles adapted to Himalayan terrain. The vehicles are comfortable, reliable, recent and well maintained.

The drivers are selected based on the quality of their driving (prudence and skill) and their experience.
We generally use either a Toyota Innova (up to 4 passengers) or a Force Traveler (up to 10 passengers).

For motorcycle safaris (or bike tours), we select the best motorcycles available.
The motorcycles are recent Royal Enfields. We give you a choice of the RE Classic 500cc or the RE Himalayan 410cc.
A mechanic accompanies the group to help you out if something goes wrong.

Any further question ? Enquire now !



Cultural aspects



Whether you are a long time backpacker or it is your first big trip, the first landing in India is always a "shock" that we do not forget.
Having been immersed in Western culture and in well "disciplined" environments, the Eastern culture and the very "crowded" environment of Delhi (especially Old Delhi) will surprise you.
Don't worry, your guide will take care of you from your arrival at the airport, but there are a few things that are good to know:

  Motorists and motorcyclists drive dangerously and very aggressively. Do not expect any courtesy to pedestrians. Be patient and move carefully when walking on the street. Above all, stay humble and don't try to lecture the guy who honks at you like a freak, so you let him pass.

  Although in the city women dress more and more in the western style, this is not at all the case in the most remote corners of the country, same scenario in the Himalayas. There are not really any dress restrictions for men, however women should avoid loose necklines and show off their legs. For the lower body pants or a long skirt will do the trick. Indian women will very much appreciate your wearing the Indian dress. Arriving in Delhi, ask your guide to take you to a store of Indian ready-to-wear dresses.

  In the depths of the Himalayas, human experiences are extremely rich and spontaneous. Unfortunately, this is not the case in tourist areas of large cities. If someone approaches you too frankly for any reason and he insists, beware, he certainly has something in his mind that is best to avoid. Decline his proposals.

  Begging is very common on the plains of northern India, but do not encourage it. Apart from a tip that you can give to your support team at the end of your stay, we beg you never to give money to anyone. Tell yourself that by travelling with Himalayan Ecotourism you support several social and environmental programs that are carried out with dignity and in a sustainable manner.

  Whether you like it or not, haggling is part of most shopping spree. Do not hesitate to negotiate prices. We will never take you to shops where we earn commissions. We will guide you to safe shops, on your request.

  When you are homestay or when you are asked to come into rural houses, be humble and respectful. Follow the advice of your guide. Take off your shoes at the entrance. Different marks of respect must be shown to different family members and you will not be able to access certain areas of the house.

  In homestays you will eat most meals on the floor, with your right hand. Avoid using your left hand. Wash your hands well before and after the meal. Be careful where you put your feet, they are considered the most impure part of the body.
Homestay in india

Homestay in india

Adapting yourself to the local culture may involve eating with your hands on the floor.




Photography


Driving in India

Photography in India

Don't be intrusive with the locals. Be discreet and respectful.


Taking photographs is obviously an important part of travelling today.
Although the locals are used to see cameras and other picture-taking devices, it is still a recent phenomenon in rural areas. Hence, you need to be careful before clicking.

Opportunities to take photos and record videos are endless in India.
But we kindly request you to feel the atmosphere before taking a photo or a video.
Take time to be with the people before “shooting” them. Start taking photos only after some level of relationship is gained.

Be aware that taking photos or videos for a professional purpose may involve asking for permission, especially in restricted areas of in National Parks.

Any further question ? Enquire now !



About money



It was a long time ago, when dozens of exchange offices were lined up in all the tourist places of India.

Indeed, with the proliferation of ATMs and the almost generalized acceptance of credit cards and even some debit cards (Maestro), it becomes almost useless to take your currency to change into rupees.

Visa and Mastercard credit cards are widely accepted in ATMs and you will get an attractive exchange rate.

You can withdraw up to 10,000 rupees (INR) at a time, and you can withdraw twice a day, making a total of up to 20,000 INR per day.

It is more interesting to withdraw a large sum (10,000) than several small sums because it costs you around 5 euros/USD for each transaction.

ATMs are available at the arrival lounge of the Delhi airport. So, you can get rupees right after landing.
ATM in india

ATMs in india

ATM have mushroomed in the country, making it easier for the travellers.




Recognition of Himalayan Ecotourism

Himalayan Ecotourism Awards

Our awards

Himalayan Ecotourism is the Overall Winner of the Indian Responsible Tourism Award 2019. We are also the Gold winner in the Best Adventure Operator category.
On the international scene, we have been declared winner of the Sustainable Tourism Award 2019 by Skal International and Biosphere.
Our cooperative-based model of social enterprise and our efforts to conserve the Himalayas are the main reasons for winning these awards.
Thank you to all our cooperative members, our customers, our friends and well-wishers !